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Real Estate Mogul Makes NY Mayoral Bid

Jacob Kornbluh

Strategy to Unseat de Blasio Requires a Coalition of Independents

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

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THROWING DOWN THE GAUNTLET Light on specifics, Massey’s pitch to Jewish voters is that he will be an effective mayor for the 8.5 million residents of the city, in which the Jewish community is an integral part

P aul Massey, a millionaire real estate executive, says he’s running to replace incumbent mayor Bill de Blasio because, in his view, the Democrat is incompetent and lazy.

“We have a complete lack of leadership, and we are headed back to the ungovernable, unmanageable years that preceded the 20 years of Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg,” Massey, one of two candidates running in the Republican primary for mayor, told Mishpacha during a recent interview at his campaign office on the 12th floor of a commercial building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. “De Blasio is working part-time. He strolls in to work at noon, three days a week, and he campaigns out of a bar in Brooklyn. I think he’s incompetent, lazy, and very distracted. It seems like he doesn’t want the job. And in business, you hire the wrong manager, you get rid of him.”

The Republican mayoral hopeful was born in Boston, moved to New York in 1983, and just five years later launched Massey Knakal Realty services, which was sold to real estate giant Cushman & Wakefield in 2014 for $100 million. He now serves as chairman of the board of directors for the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and sits on the board of directors for the New York Pops. He is also chairman emeritus of the board and devoted friend of the James Lenox House Association, an organization that provides affordable housing to older New Yorkers.

Massey is soft-spoken and his answers are short and to the point. While some candidates seek to show off the fire in their bellies, the real-estate-mogul-turned-politician demonstrates calmness and confidence, giving his audience the sense that he’s in this race to govern based on his executive experience.

As a Republican, Massey faces an uphill climb, even with Jewish voters. In November 2013, de Blasio became the first Democrat to win the Jewish vote since Ed Koch won his reelection bid in 1985. The incumbent bested his rivals among Jewish voters by 53% to 44%, according to exit polling by Edison Research for the New York Times. Massey also faces primary opponent Bo Dietl, profiled last month in these pages.

Paul Massey: “If religious and parochial schools threw their kids back into our public school system, it would collapse. So we owe those people our support”

Massey showed some early strength in his bid to unseat de Blasio. He raised more money than the incumbent mayor over the past six months, but that pace has slowed down. The latest Quinnipiac University poll showed Massey trailing de Blasio in a head-to-head race by 21% to 63%.

Massey believes he can win by building a coalition of independent voters. “The way to beat a failed manager is to coalesce around one candidate who can deliver,” he asserted. “Let’s look at a candidate, me, who can run a major organization, who has been community-involved for 30 years in this town, and who has been acting as a mayor-type figure my whole life.”

According to Massey, de Blasio’s support for Israel and relationship with the Jewish community is also part-time and out of convenience. “He is a part-time mayor and he’s a part-time friend of Israel,” the Republican candidate alleged, repeating it several times during the interview.

Massey revealed to Mishpacha that he’s planning to visit the Jewish state, for the first time, in the summer after receiving an invitation from Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat. “Barkat is a man I admire and I can relate to because he’s a businessperson who became a mayor and I know he has done some fantastic things in Jerusalem, and I look forward to being there,” said Massey.

Light on specifics, Massey’s pitch to Jewish voters is that he will be an effective mayor for the 8.5 million residents of the city, in which the Jewish community is an integral part. “I feel so close to the Jewish community here,” he says. “I think we need to support the Jewish community in the things that they think are important.”

On education, Massey says he’ll back financial support to religious schools and yeshivos “one hundred percent.” “We need to support religious schools, with money, scholarships, and tax credits,” he said. “If religious and parochial schools threw their kids back into our public school system, it would collapse. So we owe those people our support.”

Another issue of mutual concern is the housing crisis. “The Jewish community wants to stay in New York. They are not happy that some of the younger adults feel the need to leave because they can’t afford to live here,” he said. “We need affordable housing for everybody, including middle-class people. They shouldn’t feel like they are forced to move out of New York City. One of the things I have always loved about New York City is that it has these diverse and vibrant neighborhoods, and I don’t want that to change.”

“Let’s get rid of Bill de Blasio and move forward in a positive way to fix our schools and create jobs that people want,” Massey said in closing. “And I think, ultimately, when people look at me as a serious alternative to Bill de Blasio, they will realize I can do those things. We have had 20 years of strong leadership and everyone knows what that did for New York City. We are not so far beyond it that we can’t look back and say it’s doable. New York can be New York again.”

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 663. Jacob Kornbluh is also the political reporter for

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